30 March 2015

How do we define an "enemy"?

When considering the enlistment oath all of us took (or something similar) is as follows:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

How does one define the term “enemy?”

Dictionary.com defines this term as such:
  • a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.
  • an armed foe; an opposing military force:
  • a hostile nation or state.
  • a citizen of such a state.
  • enemies, persons, nations, etc., that are hostile to one another:
  • something harmful or prejudicial
When following this basic definition, how do we specifically define the enemies that we have sworn to fight against? This is easily defined in such groups as ISIL and the Nazis, but what about the more subtle enemies? What about the domestic enemies?

Example 1: When police officers perform illegal searches that are against the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution we vowed to protect, are these officers by definition enemies that we must protect the country against?

Example 2: When Congress passes a law that counters the Constitution or that law ultimately means citizens are being harmed or having their rights taken away, are they considered an enemy that we must defend against?

Example 3: When groups such as “Anonymous” hack known hate groups such as the KKK to shut down their websites, are the hacking groups an enemy?

While this line is easy to draw with enemy combatants, where does this extend to non-violent actors that may be operating outside the parameters of the oath we took?

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

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